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Vernon vehicle theft proves significance of ‘lock it or lose it’, say RCMP

Police arrested a 32-year-old man, Sonnie McDonald, who allegedly jumped into a running vehicle and drove it away.
Police arrested a 32-year-old man, Sonnie McDonald, who allegedly jumped into a running vehicle and drove it away. Courtesy: Facebook

A vehicle left unattended and running in Vernon on Monday afternoon was an easy target for a thief, according to RCMP.

“Don’t tempt thieves,” Const. Chris Terleski said of the vehicle theft in the 3000 block of 29th Avenue on April 5, at 1:50 p.m.

Police say the vehicle owner had stopped briefly at a business and within seconds, the vehicle was stolen.

The vehicle was tracked using the owner’s cellphone, which RCMP said was still in the stolen vehicle.

Read more: Real police officer, not impersonator, conducted traffic stops near Lumby, say RCMP

The suspect drove east on Highway 6 and police followed behind it, for a time, they said.

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RCMP said they then enlisted Air Services to continue tracking the stolen vehicle until it stopped on a forest service road, where Nakusp RCMP plus a police dog and handler from Vernon were able to arrest the suspect without incident.

“Remove valuables, lock your vehicle and do not leave it unattended while it’s running,” Terleski said.

Sonnie E. McDonald was arrested and charged with nine offences, including motor vehicle theft, possession of a stolen firearm and failure to comply with court orders.

Read more: Kelowna RCMP investigating another interaction between child, stranger

The 32-year-old was originally arrested on March 25 in Vernon and was charged with breaching the conditions of a previous court order, according to online court files.

On March 26, McDonald was sentenced to seven days in jail for the offence.

When the suspect was arrested on April 5, he was also charged with a theft that took place in Vernon on April 4.

His father, who lives in Fort McMurray, Alta., put out a social media appeal to help find his son on March 24, stating he had walked away from a treatment centre in B.C.

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